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Potties, Pigeons and Bribes: Summer Done Right

Summer Done Right

It’s early September now. Although fall isn’t officially here, it’s peeking its head around the corner in anticipation. A cool day here and there. Meaningless preseason football games are on television and more importantly, says my wife, the children are back at school. 

With the changing seasons, now is a good time for me to take stock of our summer successes and failures. We’re light on the successes but we’re entertaining.


Anytime you return from a family vacation with all of your children and without picking up any stray children along the way, you’ve had a successful family vacation. The highlight of the trip for me was a return to my old stomping grounds and spending time in the beautiful Northwest. The highlight for my wife:  seeing my reaction to eight straight days with the kids. Of course, the best part for the kids was spending time at the pools in the various hotels. I dare any of you to show me a kid that doesn’t love a hotel swimming pool. A kid that doesn’t love a hotel swimming pool is as rare as a kid that hates fruit snacks. Because I wrote about the vacation in excruciating detail earlier this summer, I’ll spare you the rest of the details.

Those that know me, know that for years my arch enemy has been the gaggle, swarm, pride, flock of pigeons that roost on the roof of my house. They do their business on my roof and it collects there in large piles. I tried knocking the pigeons off the roof with a high powered hose, I threw tennis balls and dirt clods at them. All for naught. Often times, at the sight of a flying tennis ball or dirt clod, they simply turned their backs to me. They taunted me. It was an epic battle; a battle the pigeons had been winning for a year and a half. I spent a Saturday morning in a hardware/outdoor store looking for pigeon killing gear. They had poison for mice, rats, bats and even raccoons, but nothing for my friends the pigeons.  Desperate for resolution of the conflict, I decided to turn to the professionals. Honestly, I even looked into hiring a falconer. After an exhausting search, I found my hit men. They started with spikes on the roof and then they resorted to poison corn. When I was told they were going to poison the pigeons, I seriously contemplated taking the day off of work so that I could set up the lawn chair, grill some hot dogs and watch in person as my mortal enemies dropped from the sky. Please understand that I am not a violent person. I’ve never hunted. I fish (but rarely catch) once a year with my Grandpa. But something about these birds brought out the worst in me. I’ll spare you the gory details and say only that “My name is Anonymous Husband, I’m a former victim of the wrath of the pigeons and it’s been three months since I last saw a pigeon on my roof.” Christmas came early for me this year.


This year marked our twelfth anniversary (please, please, please be the right number!). My wife and I trade off who plans the anniversary date each year and this year was my year. I had great intentions. I asked my youngest sister to watch our kids, I reserved a hotel room in a local resort town and planned on spending all day Saturday and most of Sunday with my wife. However, things started badly when I was stung by a yellow jacket right before we left (see below for more on our friends the yellow jackets). To maker matters worse, the day before our big anniversary date, my wife and I both came down with the colds from hell. Is there anything worse than a cold in the middle of summer (besides pigeons)?  Other than the fact that I had to ice my leg all the way up to our destination, our date started great. By the end of the day however, my wife and I were both feeling miserable from head to toe. In the morning we both felt even worse and our first stop was to the drugstore for meds. When I describe the date to those friends of mine that watch The Bachelor (I’ve never seen the show, but my wife adores it and, sadly, one or two of my good guy friends even watch it regularly though they swear they don’t like it and they only watch it in order to spend time with their wives — I’m not buying it though), I’m told our date was the exact opposite of every date they show on The Bachelor. Hey, I tried.

I’m beginning to think my house may have been built on an ancient Native American pet cemetery. First the pigeons and now the yellow jackets. Prior to this summer I went 34 years without getting stung by a yellow jacket. In the past two months, I’ve been stung twice. And it’s not just me. I have numerous friends in the neighborhood who are reporting hornet stings this summer. Somehow we’ve ticked them off and they are clearly seeking world domination. I’m going through yellow jacket spray faster than Liz Lemon gets through a box of doughnuts (shameless plug for 30 Rock). To this point, it’s been a losing battle, but I refuse to call the professionals until it’s been at least a year and a half.

All attempts to get The Boy to eat hamburgers this summer failed. I made absolutely no progress. I feel like a failure as a father because my only son won’t eat a hamburger. It’s just wrong. I can’t talk about this anymore, it’s getting dusty in here.

My wife and I instituted a reward system for The Boy and Sweet Pea in an attempt to bribe them into behaving this summer. Yep, we’ve resorted to bribes. We tried the ticket method whereby we awarded them a set number of tickets for good behavior (not fighting, cleaning rooms, reading, etc.) and we took away tickets for bad behavior (fighting, crying, excessive crying, out of control crying — yes we broke it down into degrees where something like crying about bed time is a category one offense and throwing a tantrum that results in a shoe being thrown out the window of a moving car (yes, this has happened in the past) is a category three offense). Tickets could then be redeemed for things like a catamaran, washer and dryer and the take home version of The Price is Right. I kid. It doesn’t matter what the tickets could be redeemed for because neither The Boy nor Sweet Pea ever accumulated enough tickets. They didn’t get enough tickets because my wife and I found the program too hard to administer, but we purposely never told them the program was officially cancelled so that we could still threaten them with the dreaded ticket take-away. To their credit, The Boy and Sweet Pea know our threats are empty and they’ve gone back to ruling the house. 

Jury’s Still Out

The Little One announced about a month ago that seeing as how she just turned 21 (months), she felt it was time to be potty trained. I told her to put her money where he mouth is.  She started strong, but had a couple of relapses. She’s doing a good job now, but for some reason any time we (and by “we,” I mean my wife) take her to the park, on a walk or to a playland (usually of the McDonald’s variety) she has a major accident. She’s made great progress but she’s not there yet so I can’t deem this a success or a failure. I do enjoy how she pretends to take phone calls on her play phone while she is going to the bathroom. She’s going to be a great multi-tasker.

It’s been an eventful summer. Pigeons died (again, I’m not a violent person, believe me), we’ve washed way too many pairs of Dora the Explorer underwear, we are close to living under a regime of yellow jackets and the highlight of my anniversary date was the extra dose of Nyquil. I’d have to say our summer was identical to the depiction of summer in all the beer commercial they are showing during one of those meaningless preseason football games I’m watching right now.

Hello, Fall.

Author: Anonymous Husband

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